In this week’s post I’ve decided to verbally toast all the most important women in my life. Why? Well, because this week sees the commemoration of a poet who was very fond of the female of the species. Let me explain…
photo credit – wikipedia
On Friday it will be Burns night. No nothing will be on fire. Friday the 25th January 1759 is the birth date of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. So popular and successful was he as a poet that every 25th January his life and work are remembered and celebrated. He is Scotland’s national Bard. But it’s not just in Scotland that he’s known. There are Burns clubs all over the world. And there can be very few people who have never at least heard, if not sung, his most well known song, ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
Burns was from Ayrshire and he was a farmer and excise-man. He was fond of drink and women. He died aged 37 and left a large body of work of poems and songs in both Scots and English.
On Friday night there will be Burns suppers held in schools, hotels, clubs and homes. The menu will be haggis, neeps and tatties (neeps=turnip of the large yellow variety, tatties=potatoes) washed down with whisky in many cases. The proceedings will follow a set pattern. There will be speeches and toasts – one to the haggis, one to Burns’ Immortal Memory and one Tae the Lassies (to the ladies).
And that last one has got me thinking about which particular lassies I would want to mention if I was proposing the toast.
First would be my maternal grandmother, Peggy who I wrote about here. She was such a positive influence on my early life and made up for my rather distracted and weary mother’s lack of time for her children. She instilled in me a love of words, storytelling and writing that has never left me and she made me feel very special.
My mother though not especially maternal in her child-rearing, instilled a work ethic and stoicism in me that has stood me in very good stead over the years. She raised a large family with very little money. She had a paid job – long before it was the done thing for mothers to work outside the home. And she was an amazing role model for independent and self-sufficient womanhood.
Next would have to be my four sisters. All are amazing, strong, loving women.
Sister number one was, after thirty years working in business, made redundant just once too often and she changed tack completely to become a personal carer. She earns a pittance working for her local authority but by providing care to elderly, sick and vulnerable people she makes it possible for these people to stay in their own homes. She has never been happier at her work.
Sister number two had to face early and tragic widowhood, but she rebuilt her life and has raised two fine young men. She is a pre-school teacher and she too loves her work.
Sister number three left school with no qualifications but didn’t let divorce and single motherhood prevent her from gaining a degree in nursing and building a successful career in that profession, in one of Scotland’s busiest and biggest hospitals.
And sister number four has also had to cope with redundancy – her husband’s and her own –whilst raising her sons on an, at times, very tight budget. She also spends a huge amount of her time looking after our elderly and extremely difficult father – for which she deserves sainthood and a medal.
Next there is my feisty daughter. Born with cerebral palsy and a steely determination, she grew up to become a veterinary nurse, wife and mother. She doesn’t think of herself as disabled and has always met every challenge head on.
I also have a lovely daughter-not-in-law – my son’s partner of several years. If you could design a perfect partner for your son – then she’s what you’d come up with – sweet, loving and just right for him.
And of course there’s my one-year-old granddaughter – who is of course the most beautiful, most intelligent and most adorable baby ever born
And then there are all my fabulous friends – my support network of very different and very amazing women. I’ve come to know them across every phase and location of my life – school, university, work, motherhood and neighbourhoods. They’re intelligent loving and loyal. I couldn’t live without them and I hope they know who they are.
My grandmother was born in the 1890s, I was born in the 1950s and my granddaughter was born in 2012. From Granny’s time to now, women’s lives have changed out of all recognition. I can’t imagination how life will be for my granddaughter’s generation of women. But there’s one thing I hope doesn’t change – and that’s the wonderful, life-enhancing support that the lassies offer one another.
So here’s to us all. Here’s tae the lassies. Cheers, ladies!